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Crew takes aim at conference championships on Lake Natoma

It is conference championship weekend for Stanford rowing as the men’s, women’s and women’s lightweight teams are set to compete in their respective conference championships. All three teams will travel to Lake Natoma in Gold River, California, for their championships — the Pac-12 Championships will take place on Sunday for the men’s and women’s teams, while the PCRC Championships will be held on Saturday for women’s lightweight team.

Senior Austin Hack (above) will look to help lead the men's crew team to its first ever conference championship at Lake Natoma. (RICHARD C. ERSTED/The Stanford Daily)

Senior Austin Hack (above) will look to help lead the men’s crew team to its first ever conference championship at Lake Natoma. (RICHARD C. ERSTED/The Stanford Daily)

After winning the Big Row in convincing fashion for only the third time since 1997, No. 3 Stanford women’s rowing will look to cap off one of the most successful seasons in recent memory with a conference championship. The Cardinal enter as the top-ranked team in the competition with No. 4 Cal, No. 7 Washington, No. 8 USC, No. 12 UCLA, No. 15 Washington State and No. 19 Oregon State as the other ranked PAC-12 competitors.

Stanford is no stranger to tough competition, however, having also faced off against No. 1 Brown, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 5 Virginia and No. 9 Michigan this season in addition to its tough Pac-12 matchups. At the time, the Cardinal’s varsity four handed Virginia its first defeat of the season. With a victory at the conference championship, Stanford could end Cal’s streak of six consecutive Pac-12 championships; the Bears have also won nine of the last 10 Pac-12 titles.

After four consecutive runner-up finishes from 2008-2011, women’s rowing has finished fourth and fifth in the past two years, respectively. By beating Cal and securing the Lambert Cup for the first time since 2009, Stanford might be poised to make a run at its first Pac-12 title in history.

No. 12 Stanford men’s rowing will be hoping to win its first conference title in history and make its first top-two finish since 1993, as the Cardinal have finished either third or fourth at every conference championship since then. In all but one of those years, Washington and Cal have taken the top-two spots in the conference, and it will take the Cardinal’s best performance to take them down—Washington is ranked first in the country while Cal is ranked second.

The Cardinal varsity eight boat has recorded three first-place finishes this year at the Davis Invitational, the San Diego Crew Classic and the Stanford Invitational, including a win against then-No. 12 Wisconsin. In their last contest, men’s rowing was forced to surrender the Schwabacher Cup in the Big Row when Cal’s varsity eight boat finished just under 10 seconds ahead of the Cardinal’s. Led by last year’s Pac-12 Athlete of the Year, senior Austin Hack, the Cardinal will attempt to take revenge against Washington, Cal and other Pac-12 schools on Sunday.

The women’s lightweight rowing team, currently ranked second in the nation, will enter two races in the PCRC championships. Two boats will compete in the Women’s Open 8+ race and three boats will compete in the Women’s Collegiate 4+ race. Stanford should be favored to win, as the varsity eight boat has won seven of its nine races this year, including a win in the Big Row against Cal in its last competition. Following the PCRC championships, women’s lightweight rowing will row in the IRA Championships, looking for its fifth straight national title.

Stanford rowing will start off the weekend Saturday morning when the women’s lightweight rowing team begins its competition at 10:10 a.m. Subsequently on Sunday, the men’s and women’s rowing teams will begin their days at 9 a.m. The men’s and women’s Pac-12 Championships can be seen on the Pac-12 Networks.

Contact Michael Peterson at mrpeters@stanford.edu.

About Michael Peterson

Michael Peterson is the football editor at The Stanford Daily. He has served as a beat reporter for football, baseball and men’s soccer and also does play-by-play broadcasting of baseball and men’s soccer for KZSU. Michael is a sophomore from Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. majoring in computer science. To contact him, please email him at mrpeters ‘at’ stanford.edu.